This installment of our Employee Connections series goes WAY back. Back in the day when Ovation hired its first round of trainers, Tom Frey was in their number. He's been with Ovation ever since, building strong relationships with clients and enjoying every minute.
This past fall, Tom became the Director of Operations for Ovation, expanding his role beyond the training room. Read on to find out what he's up to, and the career choice he almost made (we're glad he didn't!).
Team Ovation: Hi, Tom! Can you tell us a little about what you do as Director of Operations for Ovation?
Tom Frey: As Director of Operations, I'm responsible for the oversight of most of the curriculum, contributing to all of it in some way. I also consult on and write pieces with Kerri, Bridget, Nick, and the rest of the team.
Once the curriculum is customized and ready for each client, it’s up to me to make sure the trainer is ready to deliver it. This means having several rehearsals with them: answering any questions, helping them put the material into their own words, making sure the message is consistent from trainer to trainer, and giving them time to put as much of it on their feet as they need. We really do practice what we preach in terms of the Rehearsal Process. I think it’s one of the reasons our training consultants are so prepared, and able to roll with whatever happens during a session.
Once a gig is over, it’s up to me to have a postmortem with the trainer and see what worked, and what we need to work on. We’re constantly using what we learn in the field to tweak our content and our approach. I also work with Kerri and Eric on the development and implementation of future projects and platforms.
T.O.: You’re also an accomplished actor and director. What are some ways this has impacted your work with clients?
TF: I’ve been working in the theatre for many years, as has most everyone on our team, figuring out what works and what doesn’t in front of an audience, learning and practicing the fundamentals of stagecraft. Nearly everything we teach has some relationship to something we’ve been working on ourselves for a very long time.
As actors and directors, we’re always looking for ways to connect the academic to the experiential, to create the human connection. In other words, as we work on a play, we know that the words can’t stay on the page, but rather have to get into our minds and bodies if they’re going to be delivered well — if the experience of seeing the play is going to have real impact and be more than a reading.
The corollary to working with clients (particularly on presentation skills) is that if you’re delivering your content (the words on the page) in person, the only real reason to do it is to make a human connection. That’s what makes a presentation memorable.
T.O.: Complete this sentence: When I’m working with a client, I get most excited when ______________________.
TF: I see them achieve something they had no idea they could do. It’s wonderful to see a person who thought they had little to say deliver a riveting personal story, or a person who couldn’t be heard blow the roof off the place, or who previously had bad nerves about presenting take the stage with confidence and authority.
T.O.: Tell us something we don’t know. What’s one thing about you that might surprise us?
TF: I almost went to cooking school. After years of working in and running restaurants (in another life), the chef I was working with helped me fill out an application. However, I booked a theatrical tour the next week and never went through with it. Cooking is still a passion.